Breastfeeding and the Normalization of Nudity

28 12 2011

Maggie Gyllenhaal openly breastfeeds... I don't know about you guys, but this looks totally normal to me.

On a friend’s page, a discussion about public breastfeeding occurred. Conversation turned to me admitting that my kids have seen me naked, and the idiots came out to play and told me how gross that was and that they’d pray for me. No one has ever been so stupid to me before, to offer their unsolicited and unintelligent advice to moi, mother extraordinaire. [I guess no one told you about me! Well someone’s telling you now– I’m the shit, so step off.] As if! Have any idiots attacked your mothering lately? This must be the kind of things the trolls are always complaining NCBers do to them. *scratches head* Well, there’s a first time for everything, so allow me to bite back.

Most people don’t have the gall to dispense their unwanted parenting advice to me. Even idiots can usually detect that a) I’ve got it all under control and running smoothly and b) my “death to you” face hardly rolls out the welcome mat for their BS. However, being that the internet is a playground for trolls and idiots alike, you’re bound to occasionally run into the type of clueless twit with no social filter (usually web-induced bravery, aka Plastic Balls) who totally overstep their bounds and think they have anything of worth to dish out to you on the matter. Below are some highlights.

ewww you dont hide your nudity from your old are they?

I would never…especially an 8 year old..ewww

i have a 7 year old and a 9 year old annd that just goes too far

I never heard of living like that…but EWWWWWWW I would never…my body as a mother is kids dont need to see it or understand it…My goodness

And in countries where nudity isn’t much of an issue, like Africa or Asia, rape is extremely common and not even fought against. You want to model our country after that???

Don't look now, Mother Mary, but your SIN is exposed.

het we are strong Christians and … I do not allow them to see me its private..their body is private

Watch out for the nip slip-- the kids will be scarred for life, and the men might rape you!

once your kids are big enough you should keep your body private between you and your husband,,,your kids dont need to see our bodies...noy judgeing you just saying it like it is….

bahahahahaha think about what yopu said…it makes nooo since

no disrespect intended you need help if you allow your children to see you naked all the time.Sorry but its just not a good thing

I’ll keep you in my prayers Elizabeth. I feel bad for you if you have to let your children see you naked…I really feel bad for you and them.

I have probably seen more in life than you have and [don’t?] need your help to understand the human body. As far as you being shy…be real

well if anyone supports that then you all need to be in the circus…That is crazy….

really…letting your 8 year old see you nude thats a problem…I am sooo not against breastfeeding your child I think its great but cover yourself up.


And for the record, I didn’t say I was constantly nude, or volunteering to get nude just to show it all off to the kids. I said that my kids have seen me naked, as in, if I am getting changed, in the bath, or feeding the baby, they will see me naked, and I don’t treat it like it’s the end of the world. It’s not an emergency, I have nothing to hide, and I’m not in a mad rush to cover up.

It is my humble opinion that attitudes like those expressed above are the reason that breastfeeding is still so taboo in our culture. All of the women in this discussion were for breastfeeding, but it was very conditional, and some of them were extraordinarily judgmental over children of your own being exposed to your nudity. I suggest that if there were less stigma on the perceived perversions of our naked bodies, we would be a healthier society, and breastfeeding would be less shocking to most people.


Asia and Africa aren’t the only “countries” (ha!) where women may be more nude and less shameful of their bodies. Even white countries, European countries, have less hang-ups about the breast. Some European nations even have nudity– including breasts– in television commercials! Do they also have more rapes? No. They have less sexual repression, less fear of the breast, and better education. They have fewer rapes.

This idea of the primitive savage being unclothed and barbaric with uncontrollable lust is a white Western perpetuation. Countries with more rape have their own societal problems, but they don’t necessarily stem from nudity. Nudity itself is not a provoker of rape. Repression and fetishizing of nudity, however, may very well be.

Avert your eyes, children! Mother is about to be made unclean. UNCLEAN!

America holds tight to long antiquated Puritan ideals when it comes to our bodies, and it has turned us into raging perverts (as were the Puritans). Only through healthy acknowledgement of our bodies and sexuality can we cure our perversions, get over our weird issues with the body, and even have less crime from sexual attacks. And, maybe we’ll even get to feed our babies and have it not be a “thing”.


As for me, I’m still shy and modest and have a hard time being uncovered while breastfeeding in public. Truth be told, even using the cover in public has made me feel embarrassed, but I press on. I do what I have to do for both my baby and the greater good of society, and the braver I get the better it will be. I still have a ways to go… it’s like I can feel society’s weight on me any time I need to be natural in a pure and innocent way. But, it’s kind of our job to smash that, isn’t it?

The more we realize that seeing a little breast is no big deal, the better we’ll all be.


Bonus:    If you’re like Senator Tankerbell, you find yourself to be… aroused… and titillated… and confused by the counter-culture! The repressed will find sex in everything. They don’t need an exposed tit for that. The below is Rated R. Enjoy!



15 responses

29 12 2011
Clare Flourish

Mmm. Yes, in the UK more and more places are specifying breast feeding is welcome. If you speak out, you encourage others. Thank you. I would not approach you to congratulate you on breast feeding in public, but I am congratulating you in my heart.

But where did you get the homicide rates? I know that in most jurisdictions reckless homicide is not murder (murder one), but Wikipedia says the intentional homicide rate in the Netherlands is 0.87 per 100,000 per year and in the US 4.8, not half the Dutch number.

1 01 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

It was from a website weighing legalized prostitution against crime rates involving sexual assaults AND murder. A compelling argument from a shitty man site, though. Some of their other stuff was just garbage.

4 01 2012
Elizabeth Flora Ross

OK, it is normal and healthy to let your children see you naked, in my humble opinion. They need to learn about the human body. And if we treat it like some sort of terrible thing, what kinds of attitudes are they going to develop?

I recently wrote a post about my daughter seeing me naked and a conversation that came from that, and I didn’t receive any judgmental comments, thankfully.

I will never understand why people can’t keep their mouths shut and their fingers to themselves. You don’t agree with me? Fine. You can even say so, nicely. But those comments you received are beyond unnecessary.

4 01 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

So happy to have your input, Elizabeth! And yes, I very much agree.

4 01 2012
Elizabeth Flora Ross

Oh, and I breastfed in public often. I did use a cover. I was more comfortable that way, and my daughter was very easily distracted, so she nursed better in public under a cover. But it’s a personal choice. And I support whatever a mom wants to do.

Thought you might enjoy this post from Jill @ Baby Rabies on the topic of breastfeeding…

13 12 2012

So glad that in Australia businesses are fined if they ask a woman to stop breastfeeding or leave due to breastfeeding. I breastfed in public and my 2 children 5 and 3 have seen me naked. They have what I have and they should know never to be ashamed of what they are or their bodies AT ANY TIME. Too much emphasis is put on body image in this day and age. I may choose in the future to stop being naked in front of them on occasion but we live in a time of choice and freedom and that is my choice to make.

13 12 2012

Well, remember the USA was founded by Puritans; old habits die hard! I’ve lived in Japan and Germany where nudity is No Big Deal, and it’s a much healthier environment IMO. I used to breastfeed in the park in Germany and lots of German and Turkish women would come up and tell me how wonderful it was 🙂

13 12 2012

Good for you Elizabeth! Don’t let anyone tell you that your mothering is wrong or disgusting. People are jealous that they don’t have the same care free and good natured spirit that you do! Don’t give up!

13 12 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

That is SO sweet, Jeana. Thank you. 🙂

13 12 2012
Bridget McGann

What is up with the homicide rates in Sweden and the Netherlands?? I thought they were all peaceful and stuff.

13 12 2012
♥♂►Elizabeth, ISOTP Birth◄♀♥

Haha, yeah. I forget what the explanation/theory for that was. I heard it once.

13 12 2012
Heather Emerson

This is an amazing post. Thank you so much for putting it out there. I feel the same way, about breastfeeding of course (as a professional doula), as well as the “naked in front of your kids” issue. I have a 5 year old son, and while I do NOT set out to be unclothed around him, I don’t yell at him to not look at me, or hurry to hide behind the bed, or really treat it as a big deal. I don’t want the “forbidden” female form to be something he grows up fearing or lusting after (seeing your mom naked could CURE that!!), but that it’s private and personal, but normal part of life.

13 12 2012
The Accidental Housewife

I actually think it’s vitally important that my girls (2 and 3) occasionally see me naked.

At the ripe old age of just thirty, and after carrying, birthing and feeding two babies, I have a woman’s body. It reflects the life I’ve led, and I’m not ashamed of it. I have the soft tummy, saggy breasts and stretch marks of a twice over mother, but the strong legs and arms (and slightly worn face) of a soldier.

My daughters are bombarded daily with the plastic, photo shopped, overtly sexualised female forms of television and advertising. The best way I can combat that, besides teaching them media literacy, is showing them that my perfectly normal, technically “flawed” female body is not something which needs to be “fixed”, or rushed to be covered from their poor angelic eyes, or even something to be embarrassed about. After all, in this life’s genetic lottery, my daughters have a fair chance of drawing the same cards I did. What kind of parent would I be if I knowingly curse them with body shame?

13 12 2012

This is beautiful!

13 12 2012
Michelle D.

These people would be horrified to know that my children (5 year old girl and 1 year old boy) shower with us on a regular basis. My daughter prefers a shower with Daddy. She is completely comfortable in her own skin and I love that!

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